Gulfport man sentenced to 3 life terms for robbery, rape of elderly woman

Published: Feb. 23, 2017 at 9:06 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2017 at 11:23 AM CST
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HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A 47-year-old Gulfport man will spend the rest of his life in prison for kidnapping, robbing, and raping a 78-year-old woman in 2015.

A jury found Delbert Keyes, Jr. guilty of robbery, kidnapping, and forcible sexual assault Thursday after just 30 minutes of deliberation. Judge Roger Clark sentenced Keyes to three consecutive life sentences.

Before handing down the sentence, Clark told Keyes he will "take his last breath" in prison. Keyes is considered a habitual offender for manslaughter and aggravated assault convictions in 1988.

"You have been convicted of a despicable act of violence and are going to pay for these crimes," Clark told Keyes.

During the trial, the victim testified she was ambushed by Keyes when she went outside to check on her dog late in the evening on Oct. 18, 2015. Keyes forced the woman back into the house, and that's where he raped and robbed her.

"Although the defendant fled the scene, the victim was able to quickly call first responders with the Gulfport Police Department. They were able to not only provide medical care, but also preserve evidence that could be submitted for DNA testing," said Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker.

District Attorney Joel Smith said a DNA expert testified forensic evidence collected from the scene that night was a 99 percent match to Keyes.

"Although the defendant came up with this new story at trial, the evidence showed that the defendant had given a previous statement to detectives with the Gulfport Police Department," said Parker. "In his prior statement, he told them he went to bed at 8:30 or 9 that night and never left the house. This was contradicted by another witness who said he left his home that night at 10:30 p.m. The fact the defendant lived near the victim, he left his house at the time the crime was committed, his jacket and DNA were found at the scene, and the fact he kept changing his stories led the to the jury finding his guilt."

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